Macedonia flagMacedonia <<MAS uh DOH nee uh>> is a country in southeastern Europe. It is bordered by Albania, Greece, Bulgaria, and Serbia. Skopje <<SKOP yeh>> is Macedonia’s capital and largest city.

Macedonia is a rugged land with many mountains and hills. Thick forests of beech, oak, and pine grow in many areas. The Vardar is Macedonia’s longest river.

Macedonian Slavs make up about two-thirds of the country’s people. Other groups include Albanians, Turks, Roma (sometimes called Gypsies), and Serbs. Over half of all Macedonians live in cities. Many live in modern, high-rise buildings. People in rural areas live in stone, brick, or concrete block houses.

Macedonians enjoy such foods as cold cucumber soup, stuffed grape leaves, and dishes with pork and veal. Music and folk dancing are popular, and soccer is a favorite sport.

Many Macedonians work in factories. Many factories manufacture cars, food products, and steel. Some people work on farms. The main crops are apples, grapes, peppers, tobacco, tomatoes, and wheat. Some farmers also raise cattle, chickens, hogs, and sheep. The country mines coal, copper, lead, nickel, and zinc.

Macedonia mapUntil the early 1900′s, the history of what is now the country of Macedonia was tied to a larger area, also called Macedonia.That area included the country of Macedonia and parts of what are now Greece and Bulgaria. People have lived there for more than 8,000 years. Alexander the Great was a famous ruler of Macedonia in ancient times. Alexander’s empire extended from Greece to India and helped spread Greek culture to other parts of the world.

Macedonia became part of the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes in 1918. This kingdom was renamed Yugoslavia in 1929. In 1991, Macedonia declared itself an independent country. Croatia and Slovenia also became independent from Yugoslavia that year.

After Macedonia declared its independence, Greek protests halted recognition of Macedonia by most nations. Greece feared that Macedonia would try to reclaim lands that had become part of Greece in 1913. Greece also claimed that Macedonia was a Greek name and that the country of Macedonia had no right to use it. In 1993, the two countries agreed to a compromise.Under the agreement, Macedonia was admitted to the United Nations as the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. However, Greece still objected to the use of a symbol associated with Alexander the Great in Macedonia’s new flag. In 1995, Macedonia agreed to change its flag and to make no claims to territory outside its borders.

In early 2001, Albanians in Macedonia began to fight the government for equal power with the Slavs. The government and the rebels signed a peace agreement in August. A new constitution was approved later that year to give Albanians more rights.

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